500

Well, here we are, five hundred blog posts later. That number means a lot to me. It’s the minimum word count requirement for each blog post, and that singular rule alone has made me grow and learn more as a writer than the past several years combined.

When I first started this blog, I had, roughly calculated, about 80,000 words written. About enough for a standard length novel, and indeed one novel was about all I had had to my name. In fact, the majority of my words as an author were written during a single month, because I did NaNoWriMo during my sophomore year of high school. Outside that, I really couldn’t claim anything.

I know I’ve given that story before, so instead I’ll shed a different light on it. With the help of numbers, because I like numbers.

571 days ago I started this blog, where I would write 500 words every day in order to become the writer I wanted to be. As you can tell, I’ve missed a few days. These days I only post six times a week, and I’ve taken two breaks that were multiple weeks long. Only one of those skipped days was unplanned, I’m proud to say.

The current writing tally for all of my blog posts is just over 262,000 words long. That’s enough for over 3 typical fantasy novels, and it averages 525 words per post. But here’s the thing. I include fiction-based posts (writing prompts, chapter excerpts, etc) in the blog post tally, but I do not add their word count. Basically, the average is 525 words per post assuming every fiction post is 0 words long, which obviously isn’t the case. (I do it this way because I keep that tally separate for fear of overlap.) So really, I’m doing well. As a side note, only two posts are shorter than 500 words. Those were poems, so I dismissed the rule.

As far as “how many words per day” I’m writing (not per post), the tally is currently 460 words. It’s a little disheartening that I haven’t build enough buffer to cover the days where I don’t write, but this number is still purely non-fiction posts. This means that I’ve actually written well over 500 words per day since February 2016.

Since I’ve started this blog, I’ve done so many things. I’ve read over 50 books. I’ve written over 50 short stories. This blog has birthed Dreamscape, the Lisa Stenton stories, Rise of the Riftguard (which I will definitely come back to some day), and most importantly, it’s given me a new universe: Spear Gate.

If nothing else, the fact that I have a new playground to run around in itself makes the blog worth it. I’m no longer bound by the events and characters of Nacre Then, and while I don’t intend to retire that universe completely, it’s too restrictive for me to have much fun with it these days.

 

To sum up, I’m proud of how far I’ve come, but I’ve still got a ways to go.

Here’s to another 500.

Life — Upgrade!

So, I’ve finally gotten my new computer, and it’s a pretty interesting experience. All my life has been spent playing the hand-me-downs as far as video games are concerned. Usually, this means getting the old computer when my brother made a new one for himself. That is to say, the systems I had available could usually play all the newest games, but just barely. They would run poorly and the frame rate would be terrible— and this would already be at the lowest graphics settings possible.

So yesterday was the first day of an entirely new experience. When I played Overwatch, for example, there were many heroes I simply could not play. I couldn’t use sniper rifles because it required too much precision on a fast paced game. So I stuck with characters that didn’t really have to aim, and I was usually fine.

This new computer has literally transformed the way I play a game like that. I can do whatever I want, regardless of the circumstances, and now the only thing holding me back is my own skill. It feels great to be able to try new things and test my boundaries.

So, while I’ve only had it for a few days, I’m already super stoked. For me, the concept of opening a YouTube video and having the automatic quality adjuster playing HD without having to buffer is insane. My old computer wasn’t able to play seamless videos on high settings even if you gave it time to load!

One interesting thing to note is the fact that I couldn’t really even perceive graphics well enough to be jealous of other people. I would see one of my brother’s playing on his computer with high graphics and I wouldn’t notice much of a difference between what his game looked like and what my game looked like. But now that I’m doing it, I can feel how drastic the change is. It’s not even the visual aspect that I even care about. In a game like Heroes of the Storm, there were particle effects I had never experienced because of the graphics barrier. Little things like adding a targeting reticle on the ground as opposed to a highlighted circle.

As I wrote this blog post, in fact, I opened up the game. I entered practice mode, changed the graphics, restarted the game, and did it again to compare the two. This process took less than three minutes. With my old computer, it would take up most of that time just getting to the start menu!

The best part about all of this, is that it’s mine. As I said, most of my life has been spent with hand-me-downs, and indeed that’s pretty true in all aspects as I’m the youngest of six. But not only is this relatively high quality, but it’s also something I did entirely independently of anyone else (save the putting it together part). There was no charity here, nobody offering to help pay for a new computer because my old one stopped working. Just me deciding that enough is enough, and I can do this thing for myself for once.

That said, I probably won’t be doing a whole lot for myself again for a while. Computers are expensive!

Review — Naruto (Final Thoughts)

I finally finished Naruto a few days ago, after having bought the last five books I had been missing for years. Now, I’ve talked about Naruto before, and while it was after the series was finished, it was before I had read through it myself. So, I’ve included a link to the original post, but this isn’t a sequel post to that. To be perfectly honest, I’m not even going to reread it. Alright, full thoughts on the story I’ve been following (literally) since childhood: go! (And don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything.)

I was surprised. Most of the reason I wasn’t in a hurry to finish the series was because it would mean leaving a huge part of my childhood behind. I was a fan of the series ever since Toonami started advertising “A cool new show about ninjas!” When I was maybe five years old. It’s how I got into manga, though to be fair that was probably an inevitability. Finishing the series and moving on would mean accepting adulthood, in a way.

Before I  finished it, my perspective on the series was that it was the best manga/anime out there, but even then I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody. It’s really long, and the first two hundred chapters/episodes are, admittedly, not great. That’s like telling your friend to watch a show and promising it starts getting good after season 12. Why bother? There’s way better uses of your time. It’s the same reason I have no interest in Game of Thrones.

So, what do I think now that I’ve finished it? Well, my reaction wasn’t what I expected. I’m almost completely indifferent. Nothing exceptionally shocking happened in the last five books (~50 chapters), and, once you get far enough, you can see how it will end perhaps eight or nine books in advance. It’s not bad, mind you, but it’s not overwhelmingly exciting. I’m just plain old whelmed.

When you finish a book series, you’ll often get that cathartic bubbling of emotion that says “Oh, no, it’s over? What now?!” But Naruto has been over for years now. I honestly think I was more emotional over hearing about the last chapter having been published than I was actually reading it myself. I had already moved on.

But is the series good? Has my perspective on it changed? Yeah, of course. The ending is satisfying, but it’s not exceptionally amazing. I don’t feel as though I’ve wasted my time, because it’s such a big part of who I am. The complexity of the characters and the world is something I really admire, especially since that doesn’t happen in anime/manga very often. Of course, most people don’t have the luxury of being able to write the same story for fifteen years straight, but you get the idea.

Naruto is “fine”. If you want to spend that kind of time, it’s good. But for me, when it comes to watching and reading, “fine” isn’t good enough. I look for the “great”s and “amazing”s. So while I thank Masashi Kishimoto for the journey and helping me become the person I am today, I don’t think I’ll be convincing anybody new to pick the series up. (Somehow I don’t think he’ll shed any tears over that, though.) I doubt I’ll ever even start reading Boruto, either. I need to diversify my exposure to media more than I have been, so while I’m sure it’s good, it’s not worth my time.

Life — One Year Ago (450)

When a lot of people look back one year, they don’t see a lot of changes. For the most part, life rumbles on slowly. Usually only one or two big things will have happened throughout the year to make it memorable, and often one can’t say how a year really went without first coming up with a general emotion to describe it. In my experience, a lot of people will say they had “a bad 201X”. It could, of course, be boiled down to universal culprits, such as the bad economy, or a number of other issues many of us have to deal with.

But when I look back at my year, I try to look specifically at where I used to be and who I am now. Especially with my blog, I can now precisely track where I was in life at specific dates.

365 days ago, the blog was sort of a mess. It was organized, but it was mostly compiled into a lot of information that nobody cared about, not even me. Two reviews, two ‘Me’ posts, and two ‘Life’ posts every single week, wrapped up by a segment of Dreamscape, my second serious attempt at long form fiction. I remember back then I would occasionally write useless blurbs just to get my five hundred words in, and while I tried to avoid it, this ended up happening a lot. (You can only talk about yourself so much before you can’t even think about what to talk about anymore.) A lot of those older posts are thinly veiled vats of useless information, and while that is infinitely better than my zero writing output the year prior, I’ve grown a lot since.

Now, my blog is more refined. I’m down from four Me & Life posts a week to one, giving me much more breathing room to talk about life events that are more substantial. I introduced the Improv 101 and Learning! posts to add more variety. I also added a second fiction day, which is always great.

I think it’s important to look back constantly to make sure you’re going in the right direction. A year ago, I was super proud of the writer I had become. I was finally somebody that wasn’t afraid of putting the ideas on the page, and even when I inevitably got bored of them (as seems to be my curse with longer works,) I still stuck with it for months. A year before that I couldn’t even rely on myself to write five hundred words a week, let alone per day.

So while that jump was about changing the person I was to better fit the writer I wanted to be, the jump from this past year is more about sacrificing quantity for quality. I still have quite a long way to go before I hit that million word wall, but these days I’m not worrying about that as much as I am enjoying the words that I’m putting on the page. I was afraid to give up on Dreamscape because I wanted to at least finish the first draft, but if I’m going to be honest with myself, there were road bumps from the beginning. Problems I ignored because I couldn’t find solutions. I ended up spending the next few weeks being uncomfortable with what I was writing because I knew there were issues with the piece. I told myself it was just to get my “trunk novels” done before I work on real pieces of art.

But really, the art comes first. The very first step on the writer’s journey is to enjoy what you write, and while I’ve known this for several years, it’s a lesson that must be learned and relearned, at least for me.

I’m not the best writer in the world. The stuff I’m working on now probably doesn’t have the most interesting characters, or the most cohesive plot. But you know what?

It’s fun to write. And that’s all that really matters.

Me — One Year Anniversary

The blog is a year old today! What began as five hundred words (almost) every day has ended up being 342 posts of an average length of about 644 words (excluding the fiction which is typically over a thousand words each). Before I started, I had a total of about ninety thousand words written, most of which were spent on different drafts of my first book. It would have taken you half an hour at most to read through all of the short stories I had written, and my biggest accomplishment was The Archive, my personal wiki for all the nations, events, and denizens of Nacre Then.

I’ve written three times more words in this past year alone than my combined writing history prior, all because of this blog. I’ve grown immensely as a writer and have learned a lot about myself and the craft.

Before I started the Daily Dose, I hated writing. I called myself a writer, but really I just had this universe in my head that wanted to get out. Writing has never come easy to me, and truth by told it still isn’t. But I’ve since found stories and characters that I want to write about. I’ve finally found a broad story in Nacre Then that I want to tell (the anthology that doesn’t focus on one character), I’ve discovered Lisa Stenton, and my brothers and I are starting to explore Naya, a new world we’re building a game out of. The Daily Dose was the inspiration I was looking for to become more than I was, and I know that the future will only bring more growth.

I’m coming to realize how far I have yet to go, too. I’m still not a great editor, and for some reason I get bored with stories that go on for too long. This means that if I want to finish something, ten thousand words is the limit, and once I get there I move on to something else without making the edits I know need to happen.

Still, I think I’m ready to start looking to publicize myself. I want to start publishing my standalone short stories like “The Amazing Sightseer” and “Fortune’s Fool” to name a few. I don’t know if I’ll finish Rise of the Riftguard by the end of the year, but if I do I want to start presenting myself to publishers with it.

All that said, I’m pondering some (more) possible blog changes in the future. I don’t have anything solid yet, or even a plan for when I’m going to be giving this more thought, but I think I’m going to combine “Me” and “Life” posts into one, since they’ve always tended to bleed together. In it’s place, I want to add a second “Weekly Short” post to up my fiction output. The problem is, I don’t know what day this should be. The middle of the week works best,but it would require shifting everything around and I’m not quite sure I want to do that just yet.

So, here’s to another year of growth and learning. Let’s see what the future holds.

Life — Patience

I’ve noticed that as far as life changing situations and circumstances go, most of the good ones take time. Everything that we want to be different takes time to enact, whether its a gradual change, or one big change that takes preparation. There aren’t a whole lot of times you wake up and a neighbor wins the lottery and is kind enough to help you solve your financial problems.

Looking over the things that I typically post about (and the things I used to post about), there really isn’t a whole lot of change. Sure, my blog is less than a year old, but nothing big in my life has occurred. As I said yesterday, I suspect a change like this is forthcoming, even if I have to force it to happen. I could very well make my position worse, who knows. All I know is that while I do consider myself ‘happy’ right now, I’m not content. I’ve felt this way for a while, and that may or my not be apparent.

This is further proof that everything takes time. The best advice I can give on that front is simply: Patience. I would say my blog has accomplished virtually nothing. The only real results I’ve seen from it is the fact that I can now reliably write a short story every week, and I know I couldn’t do that even a year ago. I would say I’ve learned a little more discipline because now I write every day, but since it hasn’t influenced my life in any other way (that I could tell), I would be hesitant to even say that.

Again I’m reminded of that million word barrier to entry in the professional writing world. Currently, my writing tallies up to about two hundred thousand words worth of fiction (two hundred thirty if you go by publishing standards), and about one hundred twenty-five (or one hundred fifty) thousand words from the blog alone. It’s easily twice as long as any stand-alone piece of fiction I’ve written, yet I don’t feel comfortable adding the two numbers together and saying I’ma  third of the way to that goal of one million.

But you know what? It doesn’t matter. If I see my becoming a professional writer as an inevitability, (which the optimistic part of me constantly whispers,) it doesn’t even matter how many words I’ve written. I’ll get there one day, and all I have to do is wait. It’s either a gradual change, or one that requires preparation. Obviously this one is gradual, but for a lot of things, as is my case, it can be so gradual that it appears not to be moving at all.

I don’t feel as though I’ve grown as a writer since I started in February, but I’ve written over sixty thousand words of fiction between now and then. I’ve increased my entire total output by around thirty percent in the span of a few months! I can’t pretend that I haven’t grown as a writer.

So, as slow as stagnant as things may seem to be, we’re always changing. The best part about all this, is that we can’t not change. Time doesn’t allow for stagnation, so regardless of any choices we make, we’re constantly learning and growing. You’ll find yourself where you want to be, in time. Just be patient.

Life — Personal Growth

I think one of the hardest parts about growing up and learning is that you have to learn things on your own, sometimes the hard way. So much of life relies on our personal wisdom in decision making, but in my experience, wisdom cannot be given. It is simply a phenomenon that happens naturally as we get older. Reading advice online or talking to a friend about how they should handle a certain situation, in the end, is not wisdom. It is simply knowledge. I can impart my experience in a similar situation, but the decisions I had made were based on ultimately different circumstances and past experiences at the time. The wisdom I gained from such a situation can’t really be transmitted to somebody to prevent a situation from happening, or if it can, that person is utilizing knowledge without understanding.

It’s a tricky bridge to cross to be sure. I don’t mean to say that advice and general information is useless and that you should run off to make mistakes because they’re unavoidable. Instead, my point is merely to say that advice can only go so far.

Early on in my high school career, I would describe past me as fully narcissistic. I knew that I thought highly of myself, but it was a personal revelation of mine to find out that not everybody felt that way about themselves, and that I came across as conceited a lot of the time (not a good quality in a young teenager). It would have done nothing for somebody to come up to me and say “You’re such a stuck up know-it-all” (and I’m sure that happened more than once). The way I would have perceived it as an empty insult to put me down, not the factual statement it really was.

When I had fallen for a girl that would never share feelings for me (also during high school), it didn’t matter how many people told me to forget about her and worry about my own happiness first. To me, I took that advice as ignorance to how much I truly cared about her. How could they tell me to stop worrying about this person I’m in love with? It wasn’t until somebody told me that I’ll never be happy if I lose myself over her that I realized I needed to make some changes. But even then, it wasn’t the information that friend had given me that had provoked me to change. I already had that information. It was the way she had given it me that had presented my situation in a different light, and allowing me to look at it a different way gave me new insight.

So, advice can be helpful. But it depends on the person that is seeking it. I can provide information as to how I live my life and my personal philosophies all day (and I’d be happy to, if somebody asked for it), but in the end it won’t mean anything if that person isn’t willing to use that information to learn more about themselves. So if you’re having difficulty in your own life, maybe it’s time to look not at your situation, but at yourself. Shed some new light on your problem. Find new points of view. There’s always an answer, you just have to be willing to ask the question.